24

LessPop's close reason was rejected recently by Shog for being too generic and catch-all, but we can only do so much with our three given slots. Here's what we cover(ed) in our close reasons again:

  1. No piracy, no speculation about future, no unreasonably private betas
  2. No game design, no game development, no speculation about lore
  3. No game/hardware requests, no catalogues, no historical trivia, artifacts bitte

...and here's potentially more stuff we don't address:

  • mod requests (I thought we handled them differently?)
  • speculation about future of gaming hardware
  • ???

Here's the question: dear SE team, are we using all of our three slots enough to consider getting a fourth close reason? Dear community, how'd we arrange our do-not-wants across four close reasons?

21

Well, then, in light of Shog finally giving us the greenlight to go Four-on-the-Floor with Closure, it's time to do some closure-writing.

I'll take a crack.

  1. Questions that ask for recommendations of games, software, or hardware are off topic. For more information on why these sorts of questions don't work here, see "So, what actually is a Game-Rec?" and "Q&A Is Hard. Let's Go Shopping!"
  2. Questions about unreleased or illegal content are off topic on Arqade. We only support questions about games available to the general public through legitimate means.
  3. Questions about Game Design and Development are off topic. This includes speculative questions about developer intent, with respect to both mechanics and narrative. You might want to ask over at GameDev.SE, but be sure to read their FAQ
  4. Questions asking for help identifying a game, whether based on a description, or feature list, or any other set of criteria (i.e. "What was the first game to...") are off-topic. This blog post has some great tips for remembering those old forgotten favorites. We allow an exception for identifying games based on an actual piece of the game, such as screenshots or audio clips.
  • 3
    Can we drop the "audiovisual artifacts" expression? I really don't like it; it feels off. It'd be easier to write #4 as "Questions asking for help identifying a game are off-topic unless they reference screenshots or sound clips from the game itself. We hope these suggestions can help." – badp Jan 24 '14 at 9:48
  • @badp how's this? – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 24 '14 at 12:43
  • Much better, thanks. – badp Jan 24 '14 at 13:52
  • 2
    These seem good, but I would consider putting some emphasis/bold on the main point of the reason ("shopping advice or recommendations", "unreleased or illegal content" for example), so that the main point could be seen at a glance, which helps the experienced user quickly identify which reason is being displayed. – 3ventic Jan 24 '14 at 13:56
  • 2
    @3ventic I'll bold you. (Thanks for the reminder. Done and done.) – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 24 '14 at 14:01
  • 1
    I feel like "shopping advice" gets misread by a lot of people as "the question is somehow related to a purchasing decision, so it's off topic!" I wonder is there is a way to avoid that particular pitfall. – Sterno Jan 24 '14 at 14:28
  • 2
    @Sterno What would we lose if we just dropped that expression altogether? What's the other difference between shopping advice and recommendation? I don't see any. – badp Jan 24 '14 at 17:17
  • @badp Good point. – Sterno Jan 24 '14 at 18:07
  • Even after minimizing links, reason #4 is 48 characters too long. What I submitted instead for other mods to greenlight: Questions asking for help **identifying a game**, whether based on a description, or feature list, or any other set of criteria (i.e. "What was the first game to…") are off-topic; [this blog post](http://blog.arqade.com/2012/08/i) might help. We allow an exception for identifying games based on [an actual piece of the game, such as screenshots or audio clips.](http://meta.arqade.com/q/5081) (7 characters left) – badp Jan 25 '14 at 13:40
  • @badp and I like it; approved. – Oak Jan 25 '14 at 18:35
  • @Oak Can we get the other Extra Hyperlinkified other close reasons approved as well? – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 25 '14 at 18:51
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz yes, we can :) – Oak Jan 25 '14 at 20:23
  • Your second reason misleadingly suggests that we ban all questions about unreleased games, which is not true (as per the link within that reason itself). – Decency Jan 26 '14 at 0:50
  • @Decency only for a very specific definition of 'released'. The point is, as that question makes clear, that speculative questions based on press availability or leaks aren't welcome. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 26 '14 at 1:00
  • I don't think it's very specific (or accurate) to consider anything in alpha, beta, or limited invite "released". Until 2 weeks ago, for example, the vast majority of readers would have considered Hearthstone "unreleased" and thus unsuitable for questions. It can definitely be worded better to remove the ambiguity: perhaps by substituting "unplayable games" with "unreleased". – Decency Jan 26 '14 at 1:07
15

My (now old - see Shog9's and LessPop_MoreFizz's answers) take at the close reasons with links are below. I think there are grounds for 4th reason having tried to fit them in 3.

  1. Close reason against pirated content:

    Questions about piracy and illegal content are off topic. We only support questions about playing games through legitimate means.

  2. Close reason against speculative content:

    Questions requiring speculative answers are off topic. This includes questions about unreleased games and game design as well as speculation about lore.

  3. Close reason against ITG/recommendations/shopping lists:

    Questions asking for games or other products meeting certain criteria are off topic. This includes identifying games without an audiovisual artifact. See if the question can be rephrased to ask about a problem you're facing.

  4. Close reason against questions unrelated to playing games:

    Questions about historical trivia unrelated to an actual problem you're facing in a game and game development as well as topics unrelated to gaming are off topic. We are interested in playing games, not which game was the first to do something or how to make a game.

  • 3
    I might change the wording from historical trivia to read "Development or developer trivia". Someone might want to ask "What was the first game in the XYZ series?" Not necessarily a great question, but it leaves room for people to vote it down instead of banning it. – David M Dec 30 '13 at 16:25
  • 2
    Historical trivia are things we close. We are about problems with games you're playing, not keeping track of which game was the first to do something. That's well outside our scope. – Frank Jan 1 '14 at 15:11
  • 1
    @DavidM I changed it a bit in a way that should make it more clear. – 3ventic Jan 1 '14 at 21:28
  • @3ventic Getting closer. I'm going ruminate on that a bit. Seems a bit wordy. Perhaps "Historical Trivia Unrelated to Solving Gaming Problems, Game Development Questions, Topics Unrelated to Gaming. This site is about playing games, not making them or their history." – David M Jan 1 '14 at 21:39
  • The second reason leads to this meta post, whose top-voted and only positively voted answer states that "I propose... to remove "as well as lore questions not addressed directly through in-universe sources" text from the close reason, and stop voting to close lore questions based on whether or not an answer exists." This directly contradicts what is written in the second reason (that text is still there nearly word-for-word), making this reason confusing. It might need rewording. – galacticninja Jan 16 '14 at 12:04
  • @galacticninja I don't see a way to reword it, so would removing the lore part be better? – 3ventic Jan 16 '14 at 13:22
  • 1
    @3ventic badp's answer used to have a similar wording to yours on lore questions, but he reworded it in this edit which, IMO, is better than the current wording. – galacticninja Jan 17 '14 at 3:42
  • Your second reason suggests that we ban all questions about unreleased games, which is not true (as per the link within that reason itself). – Decency Jan 26 '14 at 0:39
  • @Decency because of the link explaining our definition of unreleased games, it doesnt say we should ban all unreleased games. Our definition of unreleased (available to the general public) is not the same as the generally accepted one (publisher dictates no matter the level of availability). Anyway, lesspop's reasons were activated already and will stay for the time being. – 3ventic Jan 26 '14 at 0:45
  • @3ventic Thanks. – Decency Jan 26 '14 at 0:49
8

Here's a graph of the off-topic reasons used during the past 20 weeks, by week:

that graph I mentioned

It seems pretty clear that a distinct ITG reason is needed. I don't care for the idea of lumping this in with game recommendations though; they're not that similar, and frankly the results of trying to create a reason that covers both have been... Really awful. Rather than arguing this point, I'm going to just list all of the custom off-topic reasons used at least twice on a question since I removed the "meet specific criteria" reason:

Uses Reason                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
---- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
5    This question is off-topic because it does not include an artifact from the game itself.                                                                                                                                                                                       
5    This question is nothing more than trivia with no real lasting impact on gameplay.                                                                                                                                                                                             
5    this question doesnt seem to be about games, but rulings on speedruns (which we don't know/oversee)                                                                                                                                                                            
5    This question appears to be off-topic because we only accept game recommendation questions that include screenshots or audio clips                                                                                                                                             
5    This question appears to be off-topic because the listed system requirements are not sufficient to run the game.  We cannot troubleshoot when those requirements are not met.                                                                                                  
5    This question appears to be off-topic because no artifact has been provided.                                                                                                                                                                                                   
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it requires in-depth knowledge outside our expertise.                                                                                                                                                                            
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is soliciting service recommendations, not asking about gaming.                                                                                                                                                               
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is requesting assets.                                                                                                                                                                                                         
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is requesting an identification without an accompanying artifact.                                                                                                                                                             
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is cross-posted at SU, and has an answer there.                                                                                                                                                                               
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking, "Can I run it?"                                                                                                                                                                                                    
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking whether a specific PC can run a game or not.  We do not allow, "Can I run it?" questions.                                                                                                                           
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for off-site resources.                                                                                                                                                                                             
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for a website recommendation.                                                                                                                                                                                       
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for a software recommendation.                                                                                                                                                                                      
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for a site recommendation, which is off-topic.                                                                                                                                                                      
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for a save file.  A better question would be to describe what problem you are having.                                                                                                                               
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for a game identification without an accompanying screenshot or other artifact.                                                                                                                                     
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about website development, not playing games.                                                                                                                                                                              
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about trying to play a game around the EULA of the game in question.                                                                                                                                                       
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about troubleshooting an operating system. See our meta post regarding SteamOS: https://gaming.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8086/which-is-the-right-stackexchange-site-for-steamos-question                             
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about setting up a PC and not gaming.                                                                                                                                                                                      
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about setting up a JVM, which is a computer configuration issue.                                                                                                                                                           
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about server management not directly related to gaming                                                                                                                                                                     
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about server maintanence reasons, not gaming.                                                                                                                                                                              
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about people or groups involved in software piracy, not about playing games.                                                                                                                                               
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about one specific system.                                                                                                                                                                                                 
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about mod development.  Game Dev stack exchange may be able to help, though I'm pretty sure the answer to this particular question is no.                                                                                  
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about map recommendations.                                                                                                                                                                                                 
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about locating a violence free let's play                                                                                                                                                                                  
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about hardware recommendations.                                                                                                                                                                                            
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about general video recording.                                                                                                                                                                                             
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about general networking, not gaming                                                                                                                                                                                       
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about general computer issues that are not specific to gaming.                                                                                                                                                             
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about configuring SteamOS itself, and our [Meta post has deemed questions about the OS itself off-topic](https://gaming.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8086/which-is-the-right-stackexchange-site-for-steamos-question)   
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about comparing video cards.                                                                                                                                                                                               
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about asking for product/site recommendations.                                                                                                                                                                             
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about asking "Can I run it"?                                                                                                                                                                                               
5    This question appears to be off-topic because it is a shopping recommendation.  Questions need to be able to stand the test of time, and asking whether or not something is still being sold does not meet that test.                                                          
5    This is a legal question. We are not lawyers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
4    This question appears to be off-topic because you are not asking a question about a problem you're facing, and will not help future visitors.                                                                                                                                  
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is spam.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is requesting a link for a specific version of Minecraft. We are not an asset location service.                                                                                                                               
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking to identify a game without an accompanying artifact.                                                                                                                                                                
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for a link to a mod.  We are not an asset location service.                                                                                                                                                         
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is an extremely localized question that will no longer be relevant within the next hour.                                                                                                                                      
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about selling your own merchandise.                                                                                                                                                                                        
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about identifying a game. If you can provide an image/sound/video of the game, we could help you.                                                                                                                          
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about identifying a game without an audio/visual artifact.                                                                                                                                                                 
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about external tools.                                                                                                                                                                                                      
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about drug usage.                                                                                                                                                                                                          
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about computer hardware and configuration.                                                                                                                                                                                 
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about asking for a straight mod recommendation.                                                                                                                                                                            
4    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a 3rd party website.                                                                                                                                                                                                 
3    This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about video games.                                                                                                                                                                                                     
3    This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about gaming.                                                                                                                                                                                                          
3    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking to find other players, and not about playing the game.                                                                                                                                                              
3    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for a mod recommendation. See the [latest meta post](https://gaming.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8147/the-community-is-closing-mod-rec-questions) on the subject for the most recent community consensus.        
3    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about food, rather than gaming.                                                                                                                                                                                            
3    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about an event that is now over.                                                                                                                                                                                           
3    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a Facebook plugin that has nothing to do with gaming.                                                                                                                                                                
2    Welcome to Arqade. Questions asking for identifying games without an audiovisual artifact are off-topic. If you can provide one, we'll gladly help.                                                                                                                            
2    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for a list of games that fit certain criteria.                                                                                                                                                                      
2    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about real-world race drivers.                                                                                                                                                                                             
2    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about racing, and not the video game kind.                                                                                                                                                                                 
2    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about nonsense.                                                                                                                                                                                                            
2    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about history and not video games.                                                                                                                                                                                         
2    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about hex editing save files, which is well beyond our expertise.                                                                                                                                                          
2    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about asking us to locate assets.                                                                                                                                                                                          
2    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about an operating system recommendation, which is off-topic because it is not about gaming, and we don't do recommendations here because the SE system does not do well with that kind of question.                       
2    This looks like spam. Could also be a stage for sockpuppets.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
2    This is spam... what happened to the close cause its spam option?                                                                                                                                                                                                              
2    Product and service recommendations are considered off-topic for this site, as they do not work well in a Q&A format. [Here is a link to a related StackExchange blog post about these types of questions](http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping/) 
2    Can be found on the wiki, too lazy to check it         

Yes, there are a respectable number of ITGs in that list. There's also a bunch of stuff that has no business being lumped in with either ITG or shopping (seriously, someone thought there was a close reason for spam?!!)

Conclusion

You can have four site-specific off-topic reasons. I recommend they cover the following topics:

  • game/hardware recommendations
  • identify this game questions lacking specific artifacts
  • Game dev speculation/rumors/trivia
  • Illegal content

Of the suggestions posted so far in this thread, I like 3ventic's the most: they're direct, explicit and well-formatted (and they have links!) However, he breaks up game dev and gossip while lumping together recommendations and ITG - this really doesn't seem to be warranted by the relative numbers. Indeed, it may make more sense to drop "game dev" as a distinct item entirely and focus specifically on speculative / rumor-mill questions.

P.S.

Contributing a good set of OT reasons would be a great way for someone to show off their deep understanding of the community here, should they wish to do so for any reason.

  • 1
    I really like that "Can be found on the wiki, too lazy to check it" reason :P – user98085 Jan 24 '14 at 10:54
7

Here's my imperfect take: (I have not checked length constraints or link targets; am on tablet)

  • We don't allow questions that can't be answered without speculation; we are not a news site. Please don't ask us questions about unreleased games or hardware (private betas are okay). Please also don't ask us to speculate about game plot and lore.
  • We don't generally allow questions asking for games or other products; we are not a shopping site. Please don't ask what you should play next. Please don't ask us to compile list of games satisfying some criteria. Please don't ask us to identify a game without something concrete from it (a screenshot, a piece of music, ...)
  • We don't allow questions asking about game design, development or historical trivia; we are not a game makers' site. Please don't ask us why games behave the way they do. Please don't ask us how to write your own games or mods.
  • We don't allow questions about piracy; we are not a warez site. Please don't ask us where to find pirated games. Please don't ask us how to make them work.
  • @BillyMailman - The 'or other products' part is still there in #2. – Robotnik Dec 13 '13 at 3:06
  • Huh. I need to stop trying to read things carefully just before bed. – Billy Mailman Dec 13 '13 at 3:15
  • 5
    I think "Please also don't ask us about game lore outside from canon" or its variants should not be in a custom close reason text at all as per community consensus in When is it appropriate to close a lore question as “not addressed directly through in-universe sources”? – galacticninja Dec 13 '13 at 13:17
  • 1
    @galacticninja Absolutely not. That's the only lore control we have, and without that, any and all lore questions, no matter how inane, are fair game. If we must allow lore, then a control is required to filter out those that don't meet the cut. – Frank Dec 13 '13 at 15:18
  • 1
    @galacticninja unfortunately that answer doesn't say what line, if any one, should be used; it merely say we shouldn't use that one. I appreciate the point he makes, but it's not very... actionable. – badp Dec 13 '13 at 15:55
  • @galacticninja See also this question where I advise closing these questions and Grace suggests letting them expire; both are highly voted. I'm personally okay with either provided that we as a community are sufficiently ruthless against speculative answers, which are the real evil. (The whole point of the "in-canon" policy is that if your question cannot be answered without speculation, it shouldn't be answered here... so why leave it open for... newbies to fumble upon?) – badp Dec 13 '13 at 18:03
  • @badp The "in-canon" rule assumes knowing the answer already (and therefore knowing that it is answered in-canon), which (as has been discussed repeatedly) is an issue. I'd prefer Grace's suggestion of letting them expire, rather than closing them (which means we make the assumption that it isn't answered). If it's a question that makes no sense as to why one would even ask such a thing (as in: someone went rambling and came to a random question out of nowhere and then asks that), we can always close as something that covers "not enough reference provided" (unclear comes to mind). – user98085 Dec 13 '13 at 18:40
  • Heck, even trying to explain such a question is hard to do, because there don't seem to be examples of something that seems completely made up and completely unrelated to the lore (but still a lore-question) at all, so "unclear" seems fitting for this hypothetical outworldish example. – user98085 Dec 13 '13 at 18:41
  • 3
    @Fei how about a real world example: Why did Aperture Science not invent perpetual motion? – badp Dec 13 '13 at 20:19
  • @badp Arguably, that's within the realm of "Those experiments in Portal 2 could include something about that", but we can go with it, I think. – user98085 Dec 13 '13 at 21:25
  • 1
    @badp Issues with closing lore questions are that games can have sequels. Say I ask an Elder Scrolls lore question about Skyrim back when Oblivion was the latest game. It could have been closed since there was not much in-game material. Now that Skyrim is out, I could give the same exact wording and it would suddenly be on-topic? – Batophobia Dec 13 '13 at 22:45
  • 3
    @fbueckert "Absolutely not." You commented about not being fond of mods overriding community consensus in another post. How is this different? There's clearly a community consensus at When is it appropriate to close a lore question as “not addressed directly through in-universe sources”?, seeing that the currently highest upvoted answer is currently at +17, compared to the next highest upvoted answer at -2 (the rest of the answers are all in the negative). – galacticninja Dec 14 '13 at 5:14
  • 1
    @Batophobia: yes. I fail to see the metaphysical issue with that. It's already the case with questions about unreleased games; you can't ask about how to get a rocket launcher in Half Life 3 until Half Life 3 is out. Ask it now, closed; ask it then, open. – badp Dec 16 '13 at 7:00
  • 1
    @badp Part of the difference is that a lore question would generally be under the series rather than the game (i.e. elder-scrolls rather than oblivion). The series IS out at the time the question is asked. This is getting off topic for this meta though. – Batophobia Dec 16 '13 at 16:14
  • 3
    @badp - Only one suggestion from me for these close reasons - remove the 'generally' (as in, "don't generally allow") from the first three. We don't allow these questions, we should be firm in our wording. Any exceptions should be treated just like that: exceptional circumstances. – Robotnik Dec 17 '13 at 3:22

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